This will easily make enough sauce for 6 to 8 meals. I like to use 10 littleneck clams on each plate, so if this meal is for 2, get 20 fresh littlenecks. I like to go clamming and use the larger ones for the chopped clams. I open them raw and drain the juice and add it to the sauce at the same time I add the wine. In the winter, when it isn't practical to go clamming, I buy raw chopped sea clams and there is little sacrifice to quality of the dish. It is also a whole lot easier than opening the big clams yourself.
1 pint of chopped clams
10 washed and scrubbed, live in the shell, littleneck clams for each serving
1 cup dry white wine
6 TBS olive oil
1 large head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small bunch each (the bunched stems should cover a nickel) , chopped, of:
sweet basil (1 TBS if dried)
salt and pepper to taste
In a 2 quart sauce pan add the oil, garlic and heat, without browning, to infuse the oil with garlic flavor. After a few minutes add the wine, herbs and bring to a simmer. Once it has simmered for a few minutes, remove from the heat and blend with an immersion blender. I tip the pan and start and stop a few times, trying to avoid splattering. Once the bigger lumps have been smoothed out, return the sauce to the heat and simmer until the wine (and clam juice, if using clams you opened) has been reduced by half.
When it's time for dinner, add the chopped clams to the sauce and bring to a simmer. At the same time, put the salted pasta water on the heat. Once the sauce is at a simmer and the pasta water is at a rolling boil, add the littlenecks to the simmering sauce and turn up the heat and add the linguine to the pasta water. At just about the same time the pasta is cooked, the clams should be opening. I drain the pasta and return it to the pan it was cooked in (off the heat) and give it a splash of olive oil and a stir. Give the sauce a taste and adjust salt and pepper. Dish out the pasta servings and count out the open clams onto each. If they have not all opened , leave them at a simmer while picking out the ones that have. If they are fresh, they should all be open by the time your are done. Add some sauce with the chopped clams onto each plate and serve at once. Discard any clams that do not open. I like to serve with warm garlic bread, freshly grated parmesan or Romano cheese.